Friday, September 19, 2014

Now's the Time: The James Isaac Group


There's a lot to like about the James Isaac Group.  The leader has distinguished himself in ensembles including Killer Strayhorn and the People's Liberation Big Band.  Bassist Jeff Harshbarger is one of Kansas City's most prominent musicians.  Multi-instrumentalist Scotty McBee plays in a wide variety of settings, including the Zappa-esque band Jazz Discharge that also includes Isaac and Harshbarger.  Yet it's the contribution of guitarist Mike Stover that makes the ensemble truly unique.  His opening solo on Joe Henderson's "Isotope" is real gone.  The James Isaac Group performs at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Friday, September 19.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes


















*The American Jazz Museum has unveiled the complete lineup of the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival.

*Two benefits for the ailing Everette DeVan are scheduled at area clubs.  The first is Saturday, September 20, at the Blue Room.  Performers include Tim Henry, Charlie Gaschett and Ian Corbett.  The second is Monday, October 6, at the Phoenix.  Millie Edwards will perform.

*The Project H and Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle are featured by The Deli in advance of their appearances at the Ink Live Stage at the Plaza Art Fair this weekend.

*KC Jazz Lark published a gallery of photos documenting the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.

*The Pitch highlights a performance by the Matt Carrillo Group.

*A critic praises the throwback sound featured on the new single by Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7.

*Tweet o' the Week: Vintage Vinyl- Can't wait to see jazz legend Joe McPhee and Survival Unit III perform at Joe's Cafe (6010 Kingsbury Ave) this Friday

*From the American Jazz Museum: The American Jazz Museum and Kansas City Blues Society have partnered to target a promotion to the local blues community that highlights the appearance of Blues legend Lucky Peterson at Kansas City’s 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival on Saturday, October 11...  General Admission Tickets to the festival are only $25 each.  However, American Jazz Museum is offering ALL KCBS MEMBERS the price of $10 each for General Admission Tickets from now until October 11.

(Original image of an orange moon by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Concert Review: The 2014 Prairie Village Jazz Festival


















Even with the addition of a nominal $5 cover charge, an artistically engaging edition of the annual Prairie Village Jazz Festival attracted an impressive crowd of several thousand people to Harmon Park on Saturday, September 6.  A few observations follow.

*The Project H's opening set showcased the band's exceptionally compelling compositions.  It was disquieting, however, to see almost no one bobbing their heads or tapping their feet to the band's soulful sound.

*Shay Estes began her outing with "September In the Rain," a possible allusion to Plastic Sax's infamous 2011 "I blame Shay Estes" post.  Rather than conjuring a tempest, Estes and a stellar band played under ideal conditions.  Residents of San Diego would have envied Saturday's weather.

*I took a two-and-a-half hour break from the festival in the late afternoon, but the echoes of Stephanie Moore's voice sounded splendid from a few blocks away.

*I no longer perceive the enormous vocal range and power I once associated with Kevin Mahogany but his exquisite taste and hometown pride haven't faltered.  Mahogany incorporated Ben Kynard's "Red Top" into a rendition of "Route 66" and performed a lovely version of Russ Long's "Save That Time." 

*Backed by saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeter Terell Stafford, pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Tyrone Clark and drummer Leon Anderson, headliner Deborah Brown said "this is my dream band right now."  Mine too.  After Lovano's stunning solo on his startling innovative arrangement of "Yardbird Suite," I turned from my spot a few feet from the stage to share my delight with others.  I was horrified to discover that three-quarters of the audience had abandoned the festival during the radiant performance by the jazz masters.  Steve Paul captured footage of the ostensibly repellent set.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Now's the Time: T.J. Martley


Other Kansas City based jazz artists may be more prominent, but T.J. Martley is almost certainly the area's biggest star on YouTube.  His tjjazzpiano instructional channel has racked up over a million views.  The pianist leads a jam session at the Blue Room on Monday, September 15.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes
















*Anita Dixon of the Mutual Musicians Foundation was interviewed by Joe Dimino for his Neon Jazz podcast.  The interview was also filmed.

*KC Jazz Lark praises and criticizes last month's jazz campaigns.

*A television station interviewed Kevin Mahogany at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival.  The Prairie Village Post provides a recap of the event.

*A music blog suggests that the new single by Chris Hazelton's Boogaloo 7 is "a freight train of real deal jazz."

*The Project H was featured on the Local Listen segment of KCUR's Up to Date program.

*Gerald Wilson, an occasional Count Basie collaborator, has died.

*Tweet o' the Week: Ryan Heinlein- Thought you should know that we are still not on the iTunes jazz charts. Our CD is still very good.

*From Chris Hazelton: New release!  “The Chartreuse Woman” b/w “The Grand Avenue Get-Down,” 7-inch 45rpm single.  Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 is a funky, organ-driven, soul-jazz group that focuses on grooves reminiscent of the late-1960’s Blue Note and Prestige recordings. These grooves have been the backdrop for what has become a weekly sensation at Kansas City’s Green Lady Lounge on Friday nights. The two Hazelton originals featured on this new 45rpm single are salutes to the hip venue the group calls home.
Street Date: October 17th, 2014.


*From Jim Mair: Kansas City’s own Kicks Band will be headlining a big band benefit later this month to support the Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Band.  The “Tea Dance” is from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 in the ballroom of the Historic Lake of the Forest Club House, 100 Lake Forest in Bonner Springs... Tickets are $15 per person; $25 per couple or $100 for a table of eight… Proceeds from the event will help with costs of the KCKCCC Jazz Band's upcoming trip to the 30th-annual Havana Jazz Festival this December…

*From the Project H: As you may know, we are fortunate enough to be a part of Matt Otto's "Jazz Underground" series at the Westport Coffee House. We generally play the first Thursday of every month. We figured that there is so much talent in Kansas City (jazz and beyond) that we would like to start working with other musicians in the scene that we might not normally get to work with. We are excited to announce that out the October 2nd show will feature Miss Kelley Gant!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Concert Review: The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra at Muriel Kauffman Theatre
















An admirable idea was exquisitely realized at Muriel Kauffman Theatre on Thursday, September 4.  Eight locally-based musicians were showcased in The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra's "Kansas City is Jazz" concert. 

Hermon Mehari, Allison Burik, Steve Lambert, Megan Birdsall, Dan Thomas, Matt Otto, Al Pearson and Bobby Watson demonstrated their talents for an audience of over 1,000.  Their efforts ranged from pleasing to spectacular. 

The virtuosic work of Lambert, Otto and Thomas thrilled unsuspecting listeners.  Mehari soared over a lush rendition of Frank Foster's "Simone."  I was brought to the verge of tears by Al Pearson's feature on a rapturously beautiful version of Pat Metheny's "Always and Forever."  The flamboyant brilliance of Watson, not surprisingly, stole the show.

Sound issues sullied the efforts of Birdsall and Burik.  Their vocals were distorted and blurry in the back of the venue where I was one of a couple dozen people who had purchased the least expensive tickets for $31.  Artistic Director Clint Ashlock also sounded as if he was speaking through a walkie talkie.  The glitches were an exception in an otherwise flawless concert. 

The big band has assumed a slightly different tone under Ashlock.  Renditions of "One O'Clock Jump" and "Swingmatism" possessed a newly acquired sense of informality.

Lest club owners hire additional staff to accommodate fledgling fans of the featured musicians, they should know that a significant portion of the audience was in town for a Rotarian convention.  Mayor Sly James read a portion of a proclamation prior to the concert designating the date as Rotary Day in Kansas City. 

The good news?  Hundreds of people from around the world were exposed to the ongoing artistic vitality of Kansas City's jazz scene.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Now's the Time: Joe Lovano


Joe Lovano and Us 5 showcased material from Bird Songs, an audacious tribute to Kansas City's Charlie Parker, at the Gem Theater in 2011.  While Lovano will appear in support of the vocalist Deborah Brown at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 6, it's my understanding that the saxophonist will also play a selection or two from Bird Songs at Harmon Park.  Joe Klopus previewed the event.